Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) general secretary Manoj Chavan has addressed a letter to the state government requesting it to formulate a gaming policy for revenue generation and allowing gaming zones in the state.
In the letter, Chavan emphasized that allowing gaming zones will lead to revenue and employment generation in the state. He stated that the neighbouring state of Goa has six offshore and eight onshore casinos which give a boost to its tourism industry, ultimately leading to greater revenue generation.
Chavan gave the example of Sikkim stating that it has a five-star hotel casino while Maharashtra, despite being the most advanced state in the country, falls behind on this front due to its regressive mentality.
The MNS general secretary had pressed on this matter last year in November as well by saying that Maharashtra can also make good use of its coastal belt and set up casinos to make the state a tourist hotspot like Goa.
The Maharashtra Casinos (Control and Taxation) Act, 1976 that was passed on 19th July
1976 is not being implemented according to Chavan. Rules under the Act are yet to be framed and notified. He also asked about the status of the study group that was formed for visiting Goa, Macau, Nepal, Sikkim and report back their findings.
Chavan also stated that several welfare policies are facing fund shortages. As a result, the state government cannot afford to ignore the potential of casinos.
The MNS general secretary mentioned a study by American company “Global Market Advisors” which stated that setting up casinos in Maharashtra can generate around $1.1 billion in revenue and with 28% GST levied on the industry, the government can earn $308 million in tax revenue in addition to earning recurring and non-recurring revenues through license fees from casino operators.
By setting up tourism, entertainment, hospitality-related services the state can create massive employment which can put Maharashtra on the global tourism map.
Meanwhile, back in 2015, eminent technology and gaming lawyer Jay Sayta had filed a PIL in the Bombay High Court on the issue of non-functional Maharashtra Casinos (Control and Taxation) Act, 1976.
Sayta submitted, “If the Legislature of the state has passed a law and the same has received the assent of the Governor, the Executive cannot ignore the intent of the Legislature by not notifying the Act for a very long period, even if it is given the discretion to implement it when it deems fit. At the very least, the Executive is required to apply its mind as to whether the time has come for the enforcement of the Act or not, or whether it intends to enforce the Act at all.”
“It is the duty of the High Courts and Supreme Court to consider cases of non-application of mind and inaction of the government and pass appropriate directions in case the government acts against the letter and spirit of the constitution,” Sayta added.
Incidentally, the Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce & Industry (FICCI) has estimated that legalizing sports betting will increase the revenue for the government by at least Rs 19,000 crore.
“Enforcement of the Casinos Act will help eliminate the financial woes of the government, as the government will raise thousands of crores in revenues. Further, citizens will not suffer criminal action for an acceptable form of recreation and a legitimate avenue of entertainment,” Sayta explained further.
Sayta believed that the enforcement of the aforementioned legislation would help in curbing illegal activities like match-fixing as the governmental agencies would be able to monitor betting patterns and take action if needed.